Nerd Lunch 2011 Year in Review

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This year has been a big year for Nerd Lunch and I want to reflect on it and maybe brag a bit about what we did in 2011.

Almost right out of the gate, we launched the short-lived, but much loved "Nerd Lunch: The Web Series." This was quite a departure from the blog and featured me co-hosting with Savannah Staverosky, another local blogger. Each episode ran about 11 minutes in length and featured a look at a "nerdy" thing in and a food-centric thing in Tallahassee. We connected with a comic book artist, battle gamers, local geek bloggers, local food bloggers, and various eating establishments. We had a great time doing it, but ultimately it was too much of a challenge to keep it going with all that we had going on. So we said farewell over the summer to the chance of doing anymore and ended by recording commentary tracks for each of the episodes.

Meanwhile, our next "outside of the blog" venture would be percolating in the background. I had guested on The Atomic Geeks podcast in September of 2010. It was fun joining them and I guess they felt the same because they asked me to come back and even host one of their episodes in June of this year. Shortly after that (knowing that Nerd Lunch: The Web Series was concluding), I approached the Geeks about the Nerd Lunch crew starting up a podcast of our own and doing it under their banner. They agreed and we began making plans for that.

Meanwhile, Nerd Lunch had our first "blog crossover" with Paxton Holley from the Cavalcade of Awesome. Pax and I met up at the Tallahassee Auto Museum and blogged for a week about the activities of the day. It was during our day together that I realized Pax would be a good fit for joining us on the show. He said he was open to the idea and we spent the summer discussing ideas for it and nailing down our format.

Meanwhile, DC Comics announced that they were rebooting their entire line of comics. This inspired a whole series of blog posts about that and even inspired another Nerd Lunch Challenge. This time, we were each tasked with rebooting an existing property and talking about how we would tweak it for modern audiences.

I made a road trip back to Illinois and did a series of posts about that trip which ended with a rundown of the food I had eaten on the trip. There you can see a somewhat obscured photo of the Nerd Lunch blogging crew.

After my return, we began finalizing details for recording a pilot episode of the Nerd Lunch Podcast. Unfortunately, PLee made it known that he would be unable to join us and our (thus far unaired) pilot only had Jeeg, Pax, and myself. It went well and and our next recording became the first episode of 17 episodes we produced in 2011. It has been a blast and because of our "rotating fourth chair," we have gotten the chance to connect with some great people this year:
Speaking of connecting, I offered to mail out post cards to our readers (and I still have a small number of cards left if you are interested) and we have begun featuring pictures of the recipients of the post cards and will continue to post pictures into 2012.

As if we didn't have enough excitement in 2011, we let our wives run the blog for a few days during the "Nerd Lunch Wives" series. This was great and seemed to get a lot of great feedback.

There were lots of other fun posts this year including my defense of Batman & Robin, my concern about the Muppets and subsequent glowing Muppet review, talk about drinks and hossin', and a grad school countdown series that began and will end in April of 2012. Also coming in 2012, is another blog series and crossover as we look forward to the coming Avengers movie.

So I think 2011 was a great year for Nerd Lunch and I look forward to 2012 as we hit our five year mark in June and 500th post soon. Thank again to all who stop by and read our posts. We hope you have a wonderful 2012. Keep on, nerdin' on!

Nerd Lunch Podcast 17: List Busters!

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Lists have become the one of the Internet's favorite ways to cook up easy content and generate views. They're also one of our favorite ways to cook up easy episodes and generate downloads. In this week's episode we turn our critical eyes to a list of the top 25 sci-fi movies and tear it to shreds... or do we? In hindsight we probably should have decided what it meant to bust a list before we started.

Also, please note that if you downloaded this episode already and the runtime was only 65 minutes, you'll need to delete that file and redownload. This one is a doozy coming in at a whopping 94 minutes! Also know that the Nerd Lunch staffer responsible for the error has been appropriately reprimanded (i.e. forced to watch the Star Wars Holiday Special for 24 hours straight).

Happy Holidays!

(Nerd) Lunch Special: Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Burgers and The W

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Note from Jeeg:  The terms of use on Wendy’s web site actually forbid people from linking to it, so you’ll have to Google anything of interest yourself this time around. Maybe our friends at Wendy’s will see this and realize that it’s a bit weird to encourage people to Tweet or post about your product on Facebook while also prohibiting them from linking to your site.

 

Recent road trips afforded me some great excuses to eat fast food along the highways and biways, including a couple stops at Wendy’s. Rather than my usual value menu purchases, I decided to indulge in their newly released premium burgers. Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Burgers are reboots of the Classic Single, Double, and Triple cheeseburgers with thicker beef patties and premium toppings.  The “W” is a smaller double cheeseburger (akin to the Double Stack) with the same new toppings and a special sauce.  The new sandwiches were rolled out in November in what has to be an effort to move a bit upmarket where players like Five Guys are making hay.

 

The Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy Single I had was very tasty, but not much different than a Classic Single. I did like the red onion and thick cut pickles, but it’s a bit of an overstatement to call them premium toppings. The lettuce and tomato were just average fast food quality (CT would say “quick service” quality) . While the lettuce and tomato wouldn’t be mistaken for In-N-Out Burger, the packaging might. For dine in orders, the classic wrapper is gone and the burger is presented vertically in an open face box.

 

The_WThe “W” appears targeted at the budget between the value menu and full sized sandwiches. It features the smaller 1/8 lb beef patties used on the value menu burgers, the toppings of the mainline sandwiches, and is priced at $3. Beyond the Goldilocks position on the menu, the special sauce is the distinguishing factor for The “W”. Wendy’s special sauce, just like the Big Mac special sauce or In-N-Out Spread, is similar to Thousand Island dressing. I’m a fan of Thousand Island, but I thought the Wendy’s special sauce was too sweet and overpowered the burger’s other toppings. It wasn’t bad, but I will probably stick with a Dave’s Hot ‘N Juicy or Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers next time.

 

Much like the revamped fries at Wendy’s, the updated sandwiches are move evolutionary than I thought they would be and feel quite familiar. That’s a good thing, in my opinion, since Wendy’s has always had one of the better burgers of the national chains.  The tweaked recipes may not win over many converts, but luckily for Wendy’s fans they also didn’t fix what wasn’t broken.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 16: The Trial of Michael Bay

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Director Michael Bay stands accused of crimes against movie going audiences everywhere. Arguing the case for the prosecution is Jeeg, leading Bay's defense is CT, acting as star witness is Jeremy of Geekchunks.com, and presiding over our podcast courtroom is the honorable Judge Paxton Holley. Find out if Transformers, Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, and the rest warrant keeping Bay off the streets and out of the director's chair. To paraphrase the late Johnnie Cochran (well, not really), "if the earbuds fit, you must listen to this."

Nerd Lunch Podcast 15: Brilliant but Canceled

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Our original idea for Episode 15 was a great one, but it was shelved. Instead our old pal Fitz from Episode 8 returns to talk about great TV shows that were axed too soon. Of course Firefly and Arrested Development come up, but we delve into an interesting selection of other shows including nerd favorites Veronica Mars, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., and Cleopatra 2525 (huh?). Grab this episode now before the suits at The Atomic Geeks Podcasting Network get wind of our ratings.

141 Days

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I discovered The Atomic Geeks in July of 2009, just before I began my Master's degree program. It has been a stressful past two and a half years with school on top of everything, but the weekly podcasts by those guys up in Canada have helped get me through it more than they realize. And they inspired the creation of our very own Nerd Lunch Podcast. Recently podcast member, Mike Downs, was kind enough to actually give me some assistance on a project I was working on for one of my classes. This week marked episode 141 and I even got to cameo on it. As I continued this countdown, I wanted to be sure to give those guys a shout out.

The Marvels and the DCs, part 2

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The "Are You a Marvel or DC" post card fun will be coming to a close soon. I have one DC card left up for grabs and four Marvel cards, only one of which is any good. Please email me at ct [AT SYMBOL] nerdlunch.net if you want one.

In the meantime, here are three more fans who sent in pictures. Last time we had all DCs. Today, we have all Marvels.

Cordy was nice enough to join us for episode 6 of the Nerd Lunch Podcast and before that, wrote some blog posts for us. Cordy and our fellow blogger, PLee were pals in college. In this picture, I sort of worry that Cordy might possibly be Galactus without the giant head gear.


Vince is a huge fan of dental care and facial hair. I had the pleasure of meeting Vince in person almost a year ago. We had a little gag planned for episode 1 of Nerd Lunch: The Web Series where Savannah was going to fall into the comic art and interact with the characters. One of the characters is actually based on Vince and he met up with me to record the audio for that never to be completed scene.



I'm pretty sure Mike is a friend of our buddy Pax. He also likes to hold tacos hostage if they don't meet his demands for more pictures of Iron Man. Fortunately for Taco Girl, my post card arrived just in time.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: Red, White and Dew!

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 On two previous occasions I have mentioned this idea and today...today, I finally tried it.

A few months back, I purchased the Dunkin Donuts "Thirst Avenger" (aka Captain America Tri-Cup Coolatta) and said that I needed to come up with new things to do with the somewhat awkward cup. One idea I had was to make a Red, White, and Dew
which combined the Mountain Dew Code Red, Mountain Dew White Out and the Mountain Dew Voltage flavors into the cup. For months, my cup has been taunting me and after finally publicly declaring that this was on my "Nerd To-Do" list during episode 12 of the Nerd Lunch Podcast, I made it happen.

When it comes to Mountain Dew, nothing beats the real thing. I don't think I will ever get tired of it. For a change of pace, I do enjoy Code Red quite a bit. Voltage and White Out aren't flavors I would go out of my way for all of the time, but are fun flavors and contributed to making this a beverage any red-blooded American should be proud to drink.


Nerd Lunch Podcast 14: Drill Down--Star Wars Holiday Special

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Access Hollywood's Ultimate Star Wars Fan, Jason Collier, accompanies us to Kashyyyk for our first (and last?) annual Life Day celebration. Rather than invoke our rights under the Geneva Convention, we endure the Star Wars Holiday Special for you. Harvey Korman's bad comedy, Carrie Fisher's singing, and Chewbacca's dad's "special time" with Diahann Carroll only scratch the surface of this TV disaster. Listen and find out why George Lucas wanted to smash every copy of the special with a sledgehammer and why each of us would gladly drive him to Home Depot to buy a sledgehammer.

CT Reviews The Muppets

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I can admit that I was wrong. And I was on some things, perhaps not on others. (Light spoilers for "The Muppets" ahead.)

I recently detailed a whole blog post where I explained why I was not excited about the new Muppets movie. I knew there would be a day where I would revisit that post. That day is now.

To refresh your memory, I stated:
For me the Muppets begin and end with Jim Henson.
Subsequently, this post was found by a Muppets forum member and ridiculed for having that outlook. And in discussing that post with said forum member, I hit on a couple of points of personal Muppet reflection.

1. That's really not an accurate statement. I've stuck with the Muppets since 1990. I was there for when they aired "The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson." I still have the VHS copy when I taped it. I saw every post-Henson movie in the theater. I watched numerous TV specials and a good portion of Muppets Tonight. The Muppets didn't end with the death of Jim Henson. There's some decent post-Henson stuff. And while my previous post alludes to that, I do think that blanket statement was unfair to the group who have carried on. What is important to note is that while there has been some decent stuff, a lot of it has been disappointing and missed the mark of what Henson and the other original performers did.

2. With my lack of excitement for the new Muppets movie due to the disappointing direction of the past 20 years, I began to question if I was really a "Muppets" fan. Perhaps I wasn't but rather a fan of the work of Henson, Oz, Nelson, Goelz, Hunt, and all the others. I was really questioning whether or not it was me or the Muppets that had gone wrong.

Since "The Muppets" came out, I have heard almost nothing but good about it. Then I began listening to the soundtrack on Spotify and was really impressed with the Bret McKenzie-produced songs. So, now I had to know for myself. Not only that, but I have seen every Muppet movie in the theater. Does that matter? No, not really, but suddenly it seemed to. So I took my daughter and we checked it out.

Fortunately for my daughter, I have been adamant about exposing her to the Muppets of my youth. So she has seen several episodes of The Muppet Show and all of the Muppet movies. This meant that she was able to get several of the site gags and have a good appreciation for what they were doing. And it did my heart proud when a photograph of Jim Henson flashed on the screen and she exclaimed, "There's Jim Henson!" The man passed away 14 years before she was born and she was so excited to see him.

As for me…I loved it. This movie got so many things right that have been wrong for the past 20 years. For one, the emphasis of this movie was placed back on Kermit. Gonzo had been the star of the previous three theatrical movies. Here, Gonzo's role was back to that of crazy supporting character. Fozzie was also given something to do and acted like Fozzie for the first time in probably 15 years. Also greatly reduced were the amount of post-Henson characters. Pepe's role was virtually nonexistent. Johnny Fiama and Dr. Van Neuter weren't anywhere. Bobo the bear had the largest role of that group of Muppets Tonight generation characters and even it wasn't huge.

In fact, this movie was all about the era of the Muppets from 1976 to 1982. The movie is a love letter to The Muppet Show and when they redid the opening of the Muppet Show, I nearly got chills. The message of the movie harkened back to The Muppet Movie and its style of humor. The interaction between the characters was right. It didn't feel weighted down with forced humor. It had the right level of oddball, quirky, and irreverent humor that made the Muppets who they are.

I'm not going to say it was a perfect movie, but it was pretty close and evoked the emotional response they were going for, even from me. I think it's biggest flaw goes back to when I said in my previous post that this movie was nothing new. It's not. The plot of "The Muppets" heavily borrows from "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie." In fact, some of the similarities are astoundingly similar.* Although, it's also worth noting that "It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie" borrows plot elements from episode 205 of "The Muppet Show."

"The Muppets" also borrows from "Muppets Takes Manhattan" and incorporates elements of "Muppets From Space" and "The Muppet Movie." Some of those were homages, while other things were rehashes of stuff we've seen before. This wasn't horribly bothersome as these rehashes were done well and freshened up.

Another slight weakness of the movie was that "The Muppets" also disavows the existence of a certain amount of post-Henson stuff, although it's uncertain exactly what was disavowed. The conceit of the movie is that perhaps the Muppets did end with Jim Henson, which again, as I mentioned earlier is unfair to the body of Muppets work from the past 20 years.

As one final note…us Gen X'ers grew up with a movie and property that told us to believe in our dreams and inspired us to go out and live those dreams. Successful or not, I do feel I continually am inspired to try to live my dreams. "The Muppet Movie" would have you believe that dreams are enough. "The Muppets" poignantly places the spotlight back on what is important. Even if it isn't the most original plot, it is a true thematic sequel to "The Muppet Movie."

Well done. I am a Muppets fan after all.



PS…ATTENTION ANYONE FROM DISNEY WHO READS THIS BLOG: Let me say again (and I think I'll end every single post about the Muppets this way from now on), when "The Muppets" comes out on Blu-ray, it better be in tandem with "The Muppet Movie" on Blu-ray and at least the long, long, long-awaited season four of "The Muppet Show" on DVD. Let's move on this Disney! Come on!


* Some of the similarities between "Very Merry" and "The Muppets" [BIGGER SPOILERS!!!]
  • In "Very Merry," Joan Cusack plays Rachel Bitterman who wants to tear the Muppet Theater down. In "The Muppets," Chris Cooper plays Tex Richman who wants to tear the Muppet Theater down.
  • In "Very Merry," Kermit must be reminded of the importance of the relationships over that of the theater. In "The Muppets," Kermit goes on the same journey.
  • In "Very Merry," Kermit wishes he was never born and sees what several of the characters are like in a world without Kermit. Among the characters are darker version of Scooter, Sam the Eagle, Bunsen Honeydew, and Beaker. In "The Muppets," Fozzie has hooked up with a group of Muppet knock-offs called "The Moopets" who are essentially darker versions of the Muppets.
  • The only thing that can save the theater in both movies is a big show. Both movies contain practice sequences and even more similarly, scenes were Kermit is making calls to celebrities looking for a host for the show.
  • Piggy must be talked into coming back to the show in both movies.
  • Both villains have Muppet sidekicks who turn on them, Pepe in "Very Merry" and Deadly (and Bobo) in "The Muppets."
  • Both movies have Whoopi Goldberg

Nerd Lunch Wives: What Makes a Good Nerd Wife?

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And so this series of posts written by the Nerd Lunch Wives comes to a close. An impressive series to be sure. My fear now is that they are going to go off and start their own blog that will put ours to shame. Or maybe instead, we can entice them to grace us with their presence again someday. For now, enjoy this final post in the series by the lovely Mrs. CT. -- CT


My favorite shows are Farscape and Firefly. I've seen every episode of ST:TNG, DS9, B5, Buffy, Angel, BSG and Red Dwarf. I heart Matt Smith (but David Tennant is a close second). I've read hundreds of comics. For our most recent anniversary I suggested going to see X-Men: First Class and really enjoyed it. Is it because I'm a nerd? Not really (well, maybe a little). Mainly it's because I'm a good -- dare I say, excellent -- nerd wife.

What makes a good nerd wife??

First, let me say that I've grown into my role. Fifteen-year-old Janay was NOT interested in Sci-Fi. At. All. But she was very interested in CT. When he asked me if I wanted to read his comics I thought, sure, why not? I cared more about impressing him than what my friends might think of me. Now that I reflect on it, I'm pretty impressed with my younger self. I was already showing signs of the most important part of being a good nerd wife -- respect his interests.

Now, you don't have to love everything your nerd is into, but you certainly shouldn't belittle it. Let him be himself. There is no reason for him to be ashamed, embarrassed or need to hide his nerdy interests from you, and no reason for you to have those feelings about him. He needs to be free to pursue what he likes.

Beyond respect for his interests, what your nerdy husband wants is a friend that comes along side him. And that friend should be you! Sit and watch the movies and TV shows he watches. Tag along on shopping excursions when he's hunting for action figures. Attend at least one convention. Wear a Wonder Woman shirt, but no need to invest in a Wonder Woman costume. (Well, unless he wants you to.)

Sometimes he wants you beside him, other times he wants to be with his buddies. Give him time to hang out with his friends (whether in person or virtually through the internet) WITHOUT feeling guilty. There was a time period in our lives recently where EVERYTHING was a challenge (work, grad school, baby) and the nerd stuff was one of the only thing that gave him an outlet and brought him joy. How could I not let him spend free time pursuing his likes?

So how does this work for me? Well, thankfully in the Venn diagram of our movie/TV interests there is a huge overlap, so I can easily be his couch buddy. I show interest and make conversation. I read the blog, I listen to the podcasts. I click "like" on facebook. But I don't comment on everything, I certainly don't want to be obnoxious!

I'm not the biggest twitter user, but I do follow several of the nerds/geeks that CT has gotten to know. I don't chime in, but I can (mostly) follow their conversations and be somewhat knowledgeable later in the day when CT recounts his funny twitter moments. Girls, if you want to have long conversations with your husband you have to know something about his interests!

If he wants to host a comic book convention in your house, dress up the kids and play the part of an annoyed wife. It's not that difficult! :)

If he wants to produce a web series, don't get in a huff when he finds a *perfect* co-host (and it's not you). Let him soar with a new project and do your part to support him behind the scenes.

Listen. Try your hardest to care about every single new G.I. Joe purchased. But don't feel guilty if you can't keep up with the names or how many variations of Snake Eyes he owns... I mean seriously, COME ON!

What are the benefits of being a good nerd wife? Well, when you spread your horizons you just might discover you actually *like* some of it. You'll energize your husband by caring about his interests and in turn, he just might care about yours. If you don't criticize or analyze how he spends his blow money, then he might not care how much fabric you buy. If you read his blog, he just might read yours. And if you tell him what you like about his most recent podcast, he just might smile at you when you show him your most recent embroidery project. Hey, he may even ask you to make awesome gifts for crazy people you don't even know and all of a sudden babies in Canada are wearing your custom creations. There's no telling what can happen when you let your nerd just be a nerd. Give it a try!

Nerd Lunch Wives: Married to a Nerd

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Continuing on with our Nerd Lunch Wives series, we asked Mrs. Holley, wife of our podcasting partner Paxton Holley, if she would like to participate. She jumped at the chance. Here is her submission.



Someone recently asked me, “So, what is it like being married to a nerd?” Hmmm, interesting question! When I hear the word nerd, I imagine a weird guy with greasy hair and tape on the rim of his glasses who carries his pens in a pocket protector and snorts when he laughs. Were they asking me because they think Pax fits this description or is it because he likes Star Wars and Star Trek? Or maybe it is because he is a computer guy? To fully answer this let’s consider what a nerd truly is. According to Merriam-Webster, a nerd is defined as “an unstylish, unattractive or socially inept person; especially: one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.”

I had a friend in college who often told me that her boyfriend had a friend who was perfect for me. I was flattered and promptly told her to set us up! Her response was always the same, “you’re not ready yet.” What did that mean? Well, I think she meant that he wasn’t my type. I was attracted to the outgoing, fun party guys.

When Pax and I finally met, we totally hit it off! We discovered our mutual love of movies, movie trivia, and that we could finish each other’s random movie quotes. We also realized that we have the same varied taste in music and found the same things funny. He was also very witty; I love
when someone can verbally spar with me! Needless to say, we started dating, got engaged and then married. That was 10 years ago this past August.

I will say that when I first met my husband he had absolutely NO fashion sense! He loved (and I’m afraid still does) t-shirts with words on them. He had an amazing Star Wars collection that included a hideous bomber jacket with Darth Maul’s face on it. He owned 50 pairs of jeans and maybe 2 pairs of khakis. I’m proud to say that in our years together his t-shirt collection has shrunk while his polo shirt collection has grown. He’s also replaced his Darth Maul jacket with a grey pea coat, and he owns several more pairs of khakis. That being said, he’s pretty stylish now.

Even though beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, Pax is far from unattractive. He is a great looking guy. He has beautiful eyes and I love his hair and smile. Unattractive he is certainly not.

My husband is very reserved and can be shy at times. I am definitely the social butterfly in the relationship. He is also very thoughtful. For example, when he’s asked a question he thinks a really long time before he speaks. Deliberation is great when discussing social issues or politics, but when asked a simple question like, would you like a piece of gum? He’ll take 10 minutes to reply. Really?! It is just gum! I would have answered in 2.2 seconds flat, but then again, my husband never puts his foot in his mouth like I do. He is also capable of carrying on conversations outside of Star Wars or computers. As you can see he is not socially inept.

He is interested in computers, electronics, comic books, science fiction movies, and he is an avid reader. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say he is “slavishly devoted” to pursuing those interests.

I guess the word nerd encompasses many things. According to this definition, however, I do not think that my husband is a nerd. Sure he sometimes wears jeans to the opera (fist in air!) but at least he pairs them with a button-up shirt and more importantly, he accompanies me to said opera. Pax has given me an appreciation for many new things and I hope I have done the same for him. He is my best friend and a wonderful father. He doesn’t totally fit the Merriam-Webster’s description of nerd. But, if writing a blog, recording a weekly pod cast with other self-professed nerds, and dressing up as Captain Kirk for Halloween is nerdy, then I guess nerdy is just my type!
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